When Halloween hit a few months ago I knew that I would be in for a good time. Halloween is the first in a series of holidays for us here in the states, and it marks the beginning of the holiday season. With nearly four months of holidays in a row, I know that when Halloween hits, that we are ready to party. Well, at least I am. Think about it. When Halloween comes, you know from that day to the days that follow that pretty much the entire country ramps up and gets ready for the holiday season. It’s really then when decorations come out, and you start seeing the shopping world go mad that you know you’re in for a magical time. The holidays are an exciting time that I have always enjoyed. You would think we would do it more often, and certainly other countries do (after living in Europe for a short while for example, it’s easy to see just how many more days off and family time they get compared to us). But, regardless of that fact, the holidays here are, in my opinion, unparalleled. Every single one from Halloween, to Thanksgiving and of course, Christmas, has it’s own distinct feel and look. Just looking around during the lead up to one of those holidays will show you just how incredible the build-up is. As much as I love all of those holidays, there has always been one that has been at the top of my list. That holiday is one that (at the time of me writing this) is just around the corner, and the feeling of excitement I have for it has never once wavered since I was a kid. Christmas is, for myself at least, my favorite holiday of the year, and one that I can’t wait for. When I was a kid, one of the things that I loved was seeing just how different my mother’s and my father’s families celebrated the holiday. Considering they were from different countries, the manner and foods which we would were unique to each other. Living in America though, that isn’t that far of a concept to each of us. I have plenty of friends and acquaintances that come from different places and celebrate our days off with their own cultural flairs. I have always loved learning and experiencing Christmas and new ways, and one way we would be doing it this year is, in the same way we did last year. Celebrating my most favorite holiday of all in the land of glitz and glamour. Yes folks, once again, we would be celebrating Christmas in Hollywood, and we would be doing with with friends from around the world.
Last year we were very fortunate enough to cover the Hollywood Christmas Parade. It was my second time going, but, the first for some of our team members. If you haven’t read our article on that show, then check it out right here. If you ever wanted to see what happens when the Christmas and Hollywood trains collide, then this is your chance. This show is just amazing. Taking place on Hollywood Blvd. along the iconic Walk of Fame, this show transforms the normal LA scenery, and replaces it with actors, actresses, musicians, marching bands, cultural groups and plenty of parade floats. It’s not every day that we get to see parades like this on the city streets, but, this is one of those times. The show usually takes place on the weekend following Thanksgiving, and, while it seems a little weird to be a few weeks before Christmas, I think it makes a lot of sense. A lot of folks already have the three day weekend for the holiday, so it makes it easy for a lot of people to check out the show. It’s the perfect weekend to hold the show as well, since it seems like the whole world goes into Christmas mode as soon as Black Friday hits.
The show last time around was amazing, and knowing that it would be coming back, we were pretty excited to go again. Just like last year, the team and I made the trek to Hollywood for the show. The one thing that we were hoping wouldn’t be the case from the year before was the weather. Last year was one of the coldest nights that we can remember, and having to cover that show was a real unwelcome experience. Man, oh man, I can remember that night as though it was just yesterday. It is winter after all, and you expect it to be cold. But, for Southern California, that night in particular was freezing. It may have been cold on the red carpet, but, with all of the bodies and lights, it didn’t seem so bad. But, the moment we hit Hollywood Blvd., it was a whole different story. The wind chill that night was like a newly sharpened sword that was slicing through our clothing. I remember standing there next to our reporter and seeing her teeth chatter and eyes sink in. She’s a beautiful woman, so, anything she did still looked cute. I, on the other hand probably looked like a bear without it’s fur to protect it. As horrible as that image sounds, it was something that I was dreading for this event. Thankfully though, it would only be chilly, and the night was the complete opposite of what it was the year before, and that’s great. As much as one would try, who would want to do an interview with me while boogers and tears run down my face? Yeah, perhaps it’s better not to think about that image. With all of the beauty surrounding Christmas this couldn’t be more offensive. But alas, it is how I roll. Having perfect weather really set the tone for this show and aided in everyone (from the stars to the people on the streets) in enjoying the parade in comfort.
Even though we knew that there would be a red carpet arrival ceremony at the beginning, we didn’t know who would be there. The roster seems to change every year, and this time around that trend would continue. While there were a few familiar faces, there were a few that we were surprised to see. Again, just like the last time, this one was full of big surprises. The first surprise of the show was the reveal of the Grand Marshall. The Grand Marshall is a curious choice and is always someone that I am eager to know. Last year it was the forever beautiful Olivia Newton-John and the year before was the comedic duo of Penn & Teller. This year they chose a talent that we did not expect. It was the one and only Dr.Oz. Everyone knows and loves Dr. Oz, so, while I had never thought of it before, it made me pretty happy to know that he would be there. This was a welcome surprise and a great addition to the other actors and actresses that would be attending the show. In fact, the list of celebs that were there that day reads like a who’s-who of the industry. If you don’t believe me, hear me out. In fact, I won’t even have to go into detail about them, you’ll know by the names listed here just how incredible it was.
It was a pretty stellar cast of people at the show, and we got a kick out of interviewing them as well as seeing them. For a person like myself that grew up watching and listening to a lot of these artists, it’s pretty awesome. Never did I imagine that I would be talking to Mr. Burt Ward (who is, by the way, one of the kindest and most enthusiastic people I’ve ever met before) of Batman fame. Or, seeing one of my friends from back in the day Samantha Hart (representing MHI Studios and looking more beautiful than ever) and a few other surprises on the red carpet. Yeah, I never thought it would be as awesome as it was, and this time around having to take up the mic was something I didn’t expect. But, that’s the fun in being a part of an event like this. As much as I love the holidays and everything it brings, being a part of something as magical as this event far and away exceeded everything I had thought about. (You can check out some of those interviews linked on our YouTube at the end of this article)
I can imagine as well that it must be fun for the fans of the parade. It’s not every day that you see celebrities and Santa Claus parade through the city streets (although, it just may be. It is Hollywood after all). The show has been running for a whopping 86 years, so, the tradition that the city has kept going is fantastic. You can really tell that the fans get into it, and I do like how the show organizers keep it interesting by changing up the talent every time a float or car passes by. The celebrities mixed in with the bands and performers is a nice mix of talents and helps keep the pace of the show flowing pretty well. The buildup is noticeable, and as time inched closer to the parade start, it was easy to see all of the crowds starting to build and all of the talent taking its place. I noticed as we were leaving the red carpet that a series of drums was playing to a beat. It was so steady and in the background of all the noise going on that I didn’t notice it as first. But, as the red carpet sounds began to die away I could hear it louder and louder. As much as I would have liked to ignore the sound, it was hypnotic. Over and over the beat would play, and with every second that passed I could feel my blood pumping harder and harder. I didn’t know where it was coming from exactly, but, it was in the direction that we would be walking, so, I knew we would definitely find out. But, even though I was curious as to where, it was a sound that I instantly recognized. Those drum sounds were coming from Taiko Drums. Oh yes, if you’ve ever unique acoustical sounds of those drums then you are in for a real treat. I remembered last year that there was a Japanese float (also called the Nebuta Float) that was pushed and pulled along by a group of performers . They would chant, holler and hoot their way down Hollywood Blvd. while a second float would travel behind them. That second float carried a group of drummers that would cry out and bang those drums to a rhythm that was enormously entrancing. I love it. That one float alone got me pumped up last year and did exactly the same this time around. The only difference between now and then is that last year I was freezing and would shiver in between the thumps. So, it was definitely a lot more enjoyable this time around.
Near and dear to my heart was seeing the Air Force Color Guard and the mini jets. If you’ve ever been to an Air Force air show, then you’ve probably seen these sweet little aircraft. As cool as they are (and believe me, they are so friggin’ cool), they do have that cute chibi (smaller, cuter versions of the original) quality to them. They are a pair of squished and cute-ified F-16 fighter jets and a P-51 Mustang (WWII fighter aircraft). I love seeing them, and hope to one day take one out for a spin. Or, at least drive around the block in one of them. These ones though, were piloted by a group of some very lucky kids. Every time I’ve seen them pass by (whether it was at this show or any other parades that we have been to), the smiles on their faces are the brightest ones around. They are definitely happy and the expressions of the crowds reflect that enjoyment. Kudos to our good friend MSgt Peter Alvarez and all of the volunteers in that program that keep their mission going.
There are so many awesome people and things that we saw at the show this year that I could go on forever about it. The floats were impressive, the balloons were great (I personally loved the giant Betty Boop balloon) and the bands were incredible. Plus, the celebrities that we met on the red carpet were true professionals through and through. Plus, on a personal note. Meeting and talking to Burt Ward (one of my idols growing up) really made my day. It’s not every day that you get to meet someone so enthusiastic about anything and everything. If I could I would have loved to have chatted with him for a while. But, alas, that is what events like this are all about. Bringing together people from all walks of life and from anywhere and everywhere to come and enjoy the spirit of the holidays. Most notable, my favorite holiday of the year, Christmas. I know I enjoyed it, and the million-plus fans that crowded the streets that day enjoyed it just as much. This year was awesome and I cannot wait until the next one comes again. To think, it’s not even Christmas yet and I’m as giddy now as I was when I was a wee lad. Oh man, I love this time of year. I should go watch Home Alone or the Santa Clause to get into the mood.
If you didn’t make it out to the parade this year, or even have a chance to catch it on TV this year, make sure you can do so next year. It’s an event that I’ve always loved, and for something that’s run for 86 years straight, there are a lot of other people that seem to agree as well. From us here at Spektrum, have a very Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!
Check out these extra vids and photos from the parade!
Highlights from The Hollywood Christmas Parade
Part 1 of our Interviews from the red carpet
Part 2 of our Interviews from the red carpet at the Hollywood Christmas Parade
Our interview with a living legend. The incomparable Burt Ward of Batman fame! What a treat!
Words and Photos By Daniel Navarrete
Video editing and production by Brandon Grimes
For more information on The 86th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade, check them out on their website at http://thehollywoodchristmasparade.org/
This article was prepared or accomplished by Daniel Navarrete in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Spektrum Magazine, or its affiliates.